THE mention of ‘big names’ that were allocated land under the Land Reform Programme has in the past been associated with failure mainly by disgruntled former white farmers, Britain and its allies.
All this are efforts by the West to tarnish the programme by suggesting that the top leaders labelled by the West as ‘Mugabe’s cronies’ were unproductive on the farms.
The former white farmers were also insinuating that black farmers were not as good.
However, the leaders that benefitted from the Land Reform Programme have shamed the detractors as their farming projects are proving to be successful stories.
One such example of a leader who is leading by example is the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Commissioner General, Paradzai Zimondi who was allocated a farm in Shamva in 2005.
Vale is the name of the farm.
It was previously owned by a white farmer known as ‘David Butler’, who according to his former workers was very abusive, something commonly associated with former white farmers in Zimbabwe.
When he first got to the farm, Comm Gen Zimondi ventured into horticulture where he produced tomatoes and potatoes, among other crops.
Ever since, he has never looked back and has continued to produce crops such as maize and soya beans.
Today, more than 100 tonnes of maize and 80 tonnes of soya beans are produced yearly at his farm.
Comm Gen Zimondi is also into livestock production and currently boasts of a herd of over 400 cattle.
Comm Gen Zimondi said the main objective of repossessing land was to address colonial imbalances by empowering the indigenes.
Prior the Land Reform Programme, only 4 000 white farmers owned the country’s prime land.
And to date, over 400 000 black households have since benefitted from the programme, much to the chagrin of the former white farmers and Britain in particular.
“We had to ensure that we as locals feed ourselves and control our resources since our economy is agro-based,” said Comm Gen Zimondi.
“The main reason for the liberation struggle was land, hence it has to be utilised for the benefit of every Zimbabwean.”
Comm Gen Zimondi has proven to be brilliant and innovative as he has ventured into aquaculture (fish farming), a trade most resettled farmers are not keen to join.
The farm has three fish ponds and each pond has a carrying capacity of 10 000 breams, which he sells at his butchery in Ruwa.
At the farm, Comm Gen Zimondi also has more than 300 pigs and the waste from the pigs is used to feed fish as it is the best food for fish. This also reduces the costs on the fish project hence maximises profit.
Comm Gen Zimondi also keeps ducks, more than 400 of them.
Speaking after touring Comm Gen Zimondi’s farm recently, Namibian Commissioner General for Correctional Services, Evaristas Shikongo said successful resettled farmers shamed the West that criticised Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme.
“Comm Gen Zimondi’s success farming story and many others contradicts what the Western imperialists say about the Zimbabwean Land Reform Programme,” said Comm Gen Shikongo.
Comm Gen Shikongo said revolutions in Africa were necessitated by the land issue.
“The successful Zimbabwean Land Reform Programme is not for Zimbabwe alone, but for the continent to learn from,” he said.
“One cannot boast about independence without land and Zimbabwe has made a demonstration for Africa.”
Comm Gen Shikongo said Namibia will draw lessons from Zimbabwe to ensure its people benefitted directly from the land.
“We tried the willing buyer willing seller concept, but it failed in Namibia,” he said.
“We have learnt a lot from Zimbabwe’s successful Land Reform Programme and we are now thinking of other plans.”
Namibian Deputy Commissioner for Correctional Services, Ben Buchane said the tour offered the Namibians a platform to learn from their counterparts on how to manage farms.
“What I saw here is the proper utilisation of land,” he said.
“It is the opposite of what the Western media portrays.
“Now I have seen personally why they are painting a bad picture.
“It is simply because they never thought Africans could properly manage land and become successful farmers.”
Unlike the former white commercial farmers who were known for not taking good care of their workers, the case is different with the resettled black farmers.
To the whites, the workers were just work machines, but the coming of black farmers brought in a new crop of farm owners who have people at heart.
Workers at Comm Gen Zimondi’s farm showered praises on their employer whom they said was eager to upgrade their status.
“Some of us have been here before the Land Reform Programme when this farm was owned by a Rhodesian,” said Tafadzwa Mwanza.
“He had no respect for us.
“The whites would beat you up for misbehaviour or even petty issues yet they paid us peanuts and denied our children the opportunity to go to secondary schools as they wanted to maintain cheap labour.
“Cde Zimondi gives us food hampers, pays us well and assists us with fees for our children.”
With more determined farmers like Comm Gen Zimondi, Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector is poised for continued growth and in the process setting a benchmark for other African countries.